20 November 2015

I’ve got news. I think I’ve got myself my first English student. *fireworks*

It’s not easy trying to find students when you’re starting out in unfamiliar territory. I never had a problem when I used to give lessons to friends and acquaintances who are aware of my skills. But with strangers it’s a different matter. I can’t exactly present them with a miniature talking version of myself as a preview.

Nor would I want to, now that I think about it. It would be weird having mini copies of myself out there doing things completely outside my control.

Anyways, the first lesson is to happen this week. Here’s hoping that all goes well and the student is pleased with my unique(?) teaching method.

I’m at the mental hospital (gosh that sounds so wrong) right now waiting to see my doctor. It’s my monthly psychiatric appointment. (For those who don’t know, I was recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Details here.) It’s always a long wait. Most happily the hospital now provides free WiFi so here I am writing this post. I did bring a book (Catch-22), but it gets boring after a while and writing makes the time go by much faster.

I’ve written about Catch-22 before on this blog and on my other blog so I’m not going to go into it again. I’m just going to repeat here that I find it a most wonderful book and I’m happy to be re-reading it. *happy sigh*

Oops. Doctor arrived twenty minutes early and got called in to consult. It’s all done and now I’m waiting for my prescription. I think today’s hospital visit is going to be the shortest yet. The only thing left is paying for and getting my mood-altering drugs. Hmm.

Before I go, I just wanted to report that my learning German is still going strong. Happily I have mastered die Öffentlichkeit and moved onto tackling other tricky words (so many of them!). Duolingo informs me that I am now on a 50 day streak. This is very good. I am pleased. So pleased that I am considering learning a sixth language (after Thai, English, French, Spanish, and German). I won’t say just now what language it will be. I will be back to let you know once I’ve actually started.

Love,

Val

p.s. Re: the novel… *radio silence*

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23 October 2015

We went shopping today! *fireworks*

Before I continue, let’s get this out of the way: no, I haven’t re-started my novel. Soon. Really. Pinky promise. (Confused readers go here.)

Now let’s get back to today’s topic: shopping.

I rarely go shopping. Only on national holidays with my parents (read: mom). Unlike most (?) girls, I never feel the urge to go shopping. I never look into my wardrobe and think, “Ah, I don’t have this in that colour; I need more of this; That’s getting old; so on and so forth”. I’m as far from a fashionista as can be and I usually make do with whatever I find in my closet (synonym for ‘wardrobe’. I don’t like repeating words; a habit from my IELTS days perhaps).

But I had fun today. In fact, I always have fun going shopping with my mom. It’s a fun activity to do together. (That’s three ‘fun’s in a row – for shame.) In fact, I generally enjoy hanging out with her: my mom can be really cute, in a very good way. I have gone shopping alone in the past, when I was living abroad. But I didn’t really enjoy it and I only went when I really had nothing in the closet. (Two ‘really’s – what’s up with me today!) I’d buy a million things at once and that would last me years. One of the items I wore today actually came from a shopping trip four or five years ago. It’s funny; I always wear the same clothes but they never wear out. Not that I’m complaining; that’s more money I can spend on books.

Today’s trip to the department store was unexpectedly productive. I hadn’t planned on buying anything; I had recently gained weight (hospital food was amazeballs) and in an effort to commit to losing it have pledged not to buy new clothes that accommodate my protruding belly. But I found this really cute longish white shirt that conveniently makes me look not fat. And then there were two other shirts which were okay but one can never have too many shirts. So yes, three shirts in total.

Then my mom reminded me that I needed a black eyeliner (which I do) and we went over to the MAC counter where we forked over THB 765 for this. For some reason, way back when I first encountered the concept of face paint, I started using MAC eyeliners. And I’ve stuck with the brand since. Not that it’s especially good (it always smudges). It’s just that I’ve formed a habit and I do not have neither the desire nor the patience to research on alternative eyeliners. I just can’t be bothered. (That’s behavioural economics for you.)

So yes, we bought the eyeliner. Then we went over to Daiso. In case you’re not familiar with the store, it’s a chain from Japan where you can buy most things for THB 60. (Though not in Japan obviously. They don’t accept the Thai baht over there, though who knows what will happen with the constant influx of Thai tourists; you cannot go anywhere without bumping into Thai people, and stores usually have signs written in Thai.) Tangent over, guess what was the first thing we saw when we went inside the store?

Yes, an eyeliner. A whole rack of them. THB 60 apiece. That’s THB 705 cheaper than the one I had bought not even a half hour before. I could trade the MAC eyeliner for a dozen of these Daiso ones. So I bought one. And if it turns out to be good (made in Korea; I have high hopes), today will be the last MAC sees of me. Gosh, I am getting mildly distressed thinking of all that money I’ve potentially wasted.

It’s crazy how much three letters cost: M-A-C. And it’s not even one of the more expensive cosmetics brands. Or maybe it is? I’m really not learnt in the economics of cosmetics goods. Maybe you could enlighten me as to the relative ranking of MAC compared to other cosmetics brands. I would appreciate it. *smiley face*

Anyways, let’s talk of better and brighter things: books! I bought books! So many books! I was extremely pleased to find that Sophie Kinsella’s latest Shopaholic book (THB 595) is out. This is the second Shopaholic book (after Shopaholic to the Stars) she’s released this year (money, money, money). And for an avid reader of the series such as myself, this is excellent news. So I bought that. Along with Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 (it’s tiny!) and a bunch of other classics. I’m especially looking forward to reading F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night (THB 125). I read The Great Gatsby some years ago and it was a powerful read (yes, powerful; I cannot think of a better way to express the book’s impact on me).

Note how classics are so much cheaper than modern reads. Interestingly, books become cheaper, rather than more expensive, the older they get. Hail to the printing press! May no books ever go out of print. (I’ve had to track down out-of-print books before. It’s more expensive of course but if you don’t mind the condition of the book you could usually find willing sellers of second-hand copies easily enough.)

What else did we do? Ah yes. We ate. A lot. So much food. So much good food. Hmmm. No wonder the weight-losing has been so many months in the making. I do exercise a lot. Just not enough to outweigh the food intake. (Eat less. That’s one more thing to add to my to-do list after ‘write novel’.) It doesn’t help that I bought snacks to stock up at home. Oops. My excuse is that we rarely go out and that I deserve a treat from time to time. (I convince no one.)

This has turned out to be a lengthier post than expected. Well, it’s been an eventful day. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this. I’ve certainly enjoyed writing it.

Now it’s time for me to get on with my German. (Yes, I’m still doing that every day. A hooray for me!) Today’s word to master is der Magen (stomach). It looks easy but for some reason it’s resolutely refusing to enter my memory. Urgh. I hate sticky words. Then I also have to memorise which prepositions are followed by the Accusative case and which by the Dative case. I have a feeling this will be one of the more difficult tasks yet. Good. I like difficult. The more difficult, the more fun (it’s got to do with a sense of accomplishment you see).

I’ll stop blabbering now.

Tschüss!

Val

 

 

 

 

 

11 October 2015

Boredom is a curious thing.

You get bored when you do nothing. And you get bored when you do too much of something. Isn’t that weird?

For me, boredom comes from monotony. It’s the brain’s way of protesting that it is being used too monotonously – doing nothing all the time and doing something all the time.

Most curious indeed.

Why am I suddenly speaking of boredom? It is because, three weeks into writing my novel, I have reached that curious state of boredom. It’s sad but undeniable. Each day I find myself procrastinating, thinking “this evening I’ll do some writing” and, when evening comes and I cannot find the inspiration to write, “tomorrow morning I will feel refreshed and then, I will write”. Needless to mention, the same train of thought continues the next day, and the next.

The novel has been frozen for a week now. I have almost finished the second chapter; there is one scene left.

I wonder why I’m suddenly bored of it. I don’t usually get bored of writing. When I started writing my main blog back in 2013, I was writing every day and yet I always found something I wanted to write about. I remember my brain overflowing with entry ideas. In fact I had so many of them that two years later I still have a long list left.

For some reason, stringing words together to create my fantastical universe no longer gives me the thrill it did one chapter ago. I have two theories to explain the situation. One, the quality of my writing has dipped and I am no longer satisfied with what I am producing, hence the boredom. Two, I am dreading having to come up with new ideas. As I write, I am inching closer and closer to the point at which I stopped writing nine years ago. As it happens, the one scene I have left in chapter two is a pivotal one. Maybe I am scared of writing it, in fear that I would make a fatal mistake and set the novel on a course I cannot see through. Maybe.

So yes, for either of these reasons or for another unknown to me, I have been procrastinating. It does not help that I have been glued to a novel I’m re-reading, Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind one of my favourite novels of all time. So instead of writing my own novel, I have been happily immersing myself in another’s. I’m currently on page 593 of 1011. It’s a long book – perfect for the purpose of procrastination.

You know what I need to get the novel going? A gentle yet persistent daily warning like Duolingo‘s. I find the mechanism highly effective. I am currently learning German (you guessed it – another way to procrastinate from my book) on Duolingo, and I am doing the exercises every day without fail. The more days I accumulate in my streak (I am currently on ten), the more determined I am to keep going. It’s really quite fascinating how easy I am to trick.

Öffentlichkeit

That’s the most difficult word I’ve had to learn so far. German is notorious for long words, and though this is not the longest word I’ve learnt (that’s privatunterricht I think), it’s the trickiest. I find the arrangement of letters extremely unintuitive. I mean, what kind of a word is that? (It means public or the public sphere, by the way.) If only German words could be short and easy like English (it’s such an easy language I cannot help but think that people who find it difficult are just extremely lazy).

So yes, I think I need a system like Duolingo’s to get my novel going again. I wonder if anyone has thought of it. It could be a very useful tool for undisciplined writers everywhere, moi included.

Hmm… I should read a French novel next. There’s this book an old friend bought me from Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport (a strange location for buying a book, I know, but he was only passing through). It’s called La vérité sur l’affaire Harry Quebert. Not the most enticing title, but I’ve flipped through it and it seems like a fun novel. Now and again I pick up a French book to keep the language fresh in my mind. Plus, I really love the flow of French and reading anything written in French always puts me in a good mood. I hope to be able to do that one day with German – that’s the plan. It’s an ambitious goal, but by no means out of reach. I am certainly as enthusiastic about German as I am of French; I have been for a long time.

But then again I just dug up my third copy of Catch-22 (I lost the first copy, and I don’t know where I put the second one). I might read that instead. I’ve been reading it for three years, and still I have not finished it. Not that I find it boring (ha! how about that for going back to my supposed topic). I really like the book. It’s not easy to read, but it’s so laugh-out-loud funny I put in the effort to follow the novel as it jumps back and forth in time in the most random way. Or maybe I’ll just read both at the same time. I’ve been doing that lately. After a while I get bored of one book and jump to the other, then I get bored of the second book and come back to the first one. It works for me. Stops me from being bored.

Coming back to the novel, maybe what I need is to start writing a second one so I can jump between the two. Oh God no. That would be a nightmare. I can hardly muster up the effort to write one. I can’t imagine doing it for two.

So yes, boredom. It’s a curious thing. I’m hoping that at one point I will miss my novel and come back to it naturally. Maybe I just need a break, break the routine a bit and indulge my brain in a little diversity.

In the meantime, I shall go back to my novel (the one I’m reading, not the one I’m writing). I’ve done my German for the day (die Öffentlichkeit, das Publikum, der Bürger, etc.) and I think it’s now time I enjoy myself a little. (German is fun, but reading is even more fun.)

I’ll be back to let you know what happens with the novel (the one I’m writing, not the one I’m reading). Most likely when I’ve got it going again. I really don’t want to come back a second time and report on my ineffectiveness. I like to think of myself as disciplined, and writing this entry is shattering that self-image.

I hope you’re more disciplined than I am and succeeding in your endeavours.

Love, as always,

Val